Andres Torres’ Near Historic Season
If the title shocks you, imagine my surprise at uncovering this random little fact. Before I say anything more, I should note that the title is slightly misleading- I’m speaking about Torres’ season relative to San Francisco Giants history; not Major League Baseball. Sorry if I’ve disappointed you.
If you’re over at Baseball-Reference.com and look at the Giants’ franchise batting leaderboard, you’ll notice the top 10 leaders in franchise history for certain offensive events. If you scroll down to the “Doubles” section, you’ll find Jeff Kent atop the list with 49 doubles (which he accomplished in 2001), followed by Jack Clark with 46 in 1978, Barry Bonds with 44 in ’98, Pablo Sandoval with 44 in 2009, and three players tied for fifth with 43 doubles. The first is Willie Mays in 1959, the second Bill Terry in 1931, and the third Andres Torres in 2010. Here’s where it gets really interesting.
Let’s revise that list by the player’s rate of doubles- i.e., the player’s doubles divided by total plate appearances:
Jeff Kent: 0.070 (696 PA)
Jack Clark: 0.070 (657 PA)
Barry Bonds: 0.063 (697 PA)
Pablo Sandoval: 0.070 (633 PA)
Willie Mays: 0.070 (648 PA)
Bill Terry: 0.065 (662 PA)
Andres Torres: 0.080 (540 PA)
Well jeez, that’s kind of cool. Despite the fact that Torres has six less doubles than the single-season franchise leader, he has the highest rate of doubles per plate appearance- in other words, he’s hitting doubles at a faster pace than anyone in the top five. And he’s done all of this in only 540 plate appearances. Unfortunately for Torres, he’ll likely have to finish with those 43 doubles.
Just for fun, though- what would we expect Andres to finish with if he played a full season? He has 540 plate appearances, which is a good deal of playing time, but that certainly doesn’t mean he’d actually continue at that exact pace due to fatigue and other random variables. Over a larger sample size, Andres is more likely to hit at a rate closer to that of an average Major Leaguer than what he currently has. This is, of course, known as regression to the mean- and it can work as a handy tool to help predict how the player would perform over a larger sample. It’s an imprecise method, of course, but I figure with the large sample we’re working with, we can get a better grasp of where he would theoretically wind up given that he’s 110 plate appearances away from a full seasons’ worth of plate appearances.
If we regress Andres’ remaining plate appearances towards the positional average (in this case, center fielders), I have him hitting roughly seven more doubles over those remaining 110 PA- which would give him 50 for the year. That breaks Kent’s record by one, and in 46 less plate appearances. This is assuming 650 PA as the baseline. If we adjust this for 700 plate appearances- since Torres hits primarily out of the leadoff spot in the lineup- this changes his projected doubles to 54, which shatters Kent’s mark, and puts him atop a list that includes a few Hall of Famers. If you ask me, that’s pretty awesome. It’s just too bad that Andres’ season was cut so short, and that he didn’t get to start regularly at the beginning of the season. Otherwise, chances are pretty good that he would have made Giants history.
By the way, his full season numbers (using the same method outlined above, in 700 PA): 169 H, 54 2B, 9 3B, 18 HR, 4 ROE, 70 BB (67 NIBB, 3 IBB), 3 HBP, 158 K. This translates to a triple slash line of .271/.344/.475. To the more statistically-oriented, this translates to +17.7 runs above the average hitter (park-adjusted) and a wOBA of .360 (wRC+ of 122). That’s a great season, especially from a guy who’s being paid barely anything this year. Brian Sabean made one hell of a move picking up this guy, and I’m very happy that I was so wrong about him.